Dunedin officials fear impact of flood insurance rate hikes on residents, economy
City officials are sounding the alarm about new federal legislation they say could mean staggering flood insurance premium increases for up to 12 percent of Dunedin single-family homeowners come Oct. 1, potentially leading to a plunge in population, home sales and property values.
Congress in June 2012 passed the Biggert-Waters Act to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency recover its multibillion dollar losses from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The act removes subsidies that had kept the rates on older homes in flood zones low and forces property owners to bear the full burden of the flood risk on their property.
That's bad news for Dunedin, which sits on St. Joseph Sound in Pinellas County - officially proclaimed to be the hardest-hit area in the nation.
Pinellas County Property Appraiser Pam Dubov says 1,189 of Dunedin's 9,870 single-family residences are pre-FIRM homes - built before Flood Insurance Rate Maps were adopted in the 1970s and 1980s - located in high-risk flood zones.
Dunedin has the fifth-highest number of affected homes in Pinellas, though some beach communities with smaller populations have a much larger percentage of homes affected, she said.
According to city officials, a homeowner who had been paying a premium of $2,000 might see their rate spike to as much $10,000 or more under the new guidelines.
The most affected neighborhood "by far" will be the Baywood Shores subdivision, a waterfront community off Alt. U.S. 19 and Curlew Road, said city planning director Greg Rice. Other potentially hard-hit areas, Rice said, include Buena Vista, Santa Barbara and Harbor View drives, as well as some inland properties to the east of Alt. U.S. 19 or those along city creeks.
To read what city commissioners and residents have to say, as well as for tips on keeping insurance rates low, click here.